The pie is as an intrinsic part of British cuisine as roast dinners, fry-ups, and fish & chips, so much so that we even have a whole week dedicated to them. There are a ton of regional pies beloved up and down the country, from Cornwall’s stargazy pie to balti pies in the Midlands to butter pies up north, with pies a near-constant fixture on the capital’s food scene as well.
Pie, mash and liquor is perhaps the quintessential ‘London’ dish, and it was the city’s original fast food, feeding the hungry working classes in East and South London since Victorian times. As well as at traditional pie & mash shops (which are sadly dying out), you can find pies everywhere in London, from football stadiums and street food markets to pubs and high-end hotels. Recently we’ve started to move away from the dish’s simple origins, harking back to the showiness of medieval pies – we may not have live birds flying out from underneath pastry lids as was the fashion in ye olde England – but the fillings are getting more luxe and the prices are inching up. Meat & potato is being swapped for lobster & Champagne, and you’ll need a credit card rather than a crisp tenner to pay with. Meet the not-so-humble pies of London.
Mount St. Restaurant
There’s no doubt as to what’s inside this sharing pie at Mount St. Restaurant, on the first floor of The Audley, as it comes served with a lobster head poking out the top (the £96 price tag might give you a clue too). Eating lobster surrounded by incredible art, it doesn’t get more boujie than that.
Definitely not the kind of pot pie your mum would whip up, this version at Bethnal Green’s Bistrotheque is filled with lobster and crayfish, and topped with an artfully draped blanket of pastry. And at £45 a pop, you’d want every bit of extra pastry you can get.
Part of the posh pub wave sweeping the city, The Pelican in Notting Hill is proving its poshness with a lobster and monkfish pie, complete with a gloriously golden latticed lid. Don’t forget to order a plank of mash on the side.
The Barley Mow
Part of the Cubitt House group, where Ben Tish is Chef Director, restored Mayfair pub The Barley Mow has put a luxe spin on the traditional pie and mash – here, it’s native breed beef inside the pastry, served with mash, parsley sauce, and optional deep fried rock oyster, which you’d obviously add. When in Mayfair…
Bob Bob Ricard
Bob Bob Ricard is a restaurant that doesn’t do things by halves, so of course its pies are fancy. There’s a chicken & Champagne pie, filled with shiitake mushrooms, leeks and carrots, and topped with beautifully embossed puff pastry, and a ‘humble’ veggie version with Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms, celeriac, onions, truffle and Champagne, because only here would truffle be considered humble. Still need more fizz? Just press for Champagne.
The Connaught Grill
The Connaught Grill has really pushed the boat out when it comes to fancy pies with a dedicated pie of the day section on its menu, including shepherd’s pie, chicken with artichoke & lemon pie, sea bass en croute, and lamb & pistachio pie. Multiple pies in one week? Sounds like a fun challenge (though less fun for your wallet).
The Grill at The Dorchester
Tom Booton is cooking up the fanciest gala pie in the land at The Grill at The Dorchester. It’s a pork and quail egg pie, encased in golden pastry, and served with creamy mash, hispi cabbage and date puree. This is a Pie Week special so it’s not gonna be around for long.